I’m not sure why, but I’ve been invited to a variety of meetings, lunches, dinners, and gatherings recently. And it isn’t that I am so popular or my presence is so desired. Some invitations are because the inviter wants something, but most of the ones this month are related to Pastor’s Appreciation Month. I’ve accepted most of them.
These multiple invitations reminded me of one of my favorite invitations in the Bible that I reviewed with one of my Bible studies earlier this month. It is from Jesus and is found in Matthew 11:28-30. It’s an invitation that I have welcomed and responded to many times in my life. And it is an invitation you may too want to consider accepting again and again.
Note first to whom Jesus offers his invitation. It is to “all you who are weary and burdened.” That’s quite a description, isn’t it? And it describes all of us at times in our lives. It may describe you as you read it today. I’m fairly confident we all are carrying burdens, and that often makes us weary.
More important perhaps than to whom the invitation is offered, note next who offers the invitation. It is Jesus. And Jesus describes himself as “gentle and humble in heart.” “Gentle” (or “meek” as the word is also translated) does not mean weak, but is suggestive of one’s attitude and way of life in relation to God. It’s about being in submission to him and knowing who you are in relation to him. “Humble in heart” does not indicate a timid, joyless person; but is rather an attitude of acceptance of others. It is the Son of God who offers the invitation.
We should also highlight the content of the invitation. He invites us to do three things. The first is simply to come to him. He doesn’t force us, bribe us, or press us; he just invites us. But he also invites us “to take his yoke” and “learn from him.” At the end of the passage Jesus tells us “my yoke is easy and my burden is light.” “Easy” probably doesn’t mean easy as we usually understand it, but perhaps “well-fitting.” And who doesn’t want to learn from Jesus how to live?
Most comforting to me in Jesus’ invitation is his promise to those who accept it. In verse 28 he says “I will give you rest” and in verse 29 he expands “you will find rest for your souls.” “Rest” has at least a couple of connotations. It may be understood in terms of relief—relief from our burdens because we have taken his yoke. Rest also may be understood in terms of refreshment or being revived. It reminds me of David’s declaration in the most loved passage of the Old Testament, “He makes me lie down in green pastures, he leads me beside quiet waters, he refreshes my soul: (Psalm 23:2 and 3a).
I don’t know what other invitations you have and are receiving these days, but this is one I encourage you to consider accepting again and again. Jesus says, “You’re invited.”
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